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Director Cindy Meehl previously chronicled the connection between humans and animals in the 2011 horse whisperer documentary “Buck,” and she revisits that inspiring nonfiction subgenre with “The Dog Doc.” Here, Meehl chronicles the friendly staff and furry patients of Dr. Marty Goldstein, a veterinarian who combines conventional and alternative medicines.
This is a warm and fuzzy film, full of nose-licking and belly rubs, but it doesn’t only cuddle the audience. “The Dog Doc” smartly acknowledges criticism of Dr. Goldstein’s methods, as well as showing that they — like all medicine — don’t always succeed in saving the lives of his patients. But Meehl’s film is a quietly convincing story of the merits of Goldstein’s integrative, innovative method that brings elements like acupuncture and intravenous vitamin C into veterinary care alongside more traditional treatments.
Meehl spends 2 1/2 years with both patients and the doctors at Goldstein’s practice in upstate New York, with a structure that allows audiences to see the dogs’ progress (or unfortunate decline) as well as the staff’s emotional investment in their care. The approach loses focus at times, making viewers question whether the film is more about Goldstein himself, his methods or his practice as a whole. However, its chill, holistic view of the clinic and its canine patients will likely appeal to pet lovers and wellness devotees alike, although the allergic and the skeptics might find their minds wandering toward its end.